The Utah Jazz on Christmas! I can’t think of a more complete day. It seems like just yesterday that the Utah Jazz were blowing out the Portland Trail Blazers in Portland for what might have been their most complete game of the season. The team lost a little bit of that good vibe with a narrow loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday but there is no doubt that this team is trending the right way lately, especially defensively.
Although the Portland Trailblazers have come back down to earth a little bit since being at the top of the western conference about a month ago, they are still a really tough opponent. The Jazz have traditionally struggled with the Blazers because it is so hard to keep Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in check. Let’s hope there is some Christmas magic at Vivint Smart Home Arena tonight and the Jazz can repeat their performance from Friday night.
When: 10:30 PM ET • Christmas, Dec. 25, 2018
Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena • Salt Lake City, UT
TV: AT&T SportsNet-Rocky Mountain, ESPN
Radio: 1280AM/97.5 FM The Zone, ESPN Radio
Portland Trail Blazers:
What to watch for
As mentioned before the Blazers sat atop the western conference standings about a month ago with an 11-5 record and it looked like they were going to be a force to be reckoned with in a wide open western conference. But they have definitely slowed down and fallen back into the middle of the pack since then. The biggest reason for that is defense. The Blazers started off the first month of the season with a much improved looking defense, sporting a defensive rating of 106.4 and being 9th in the league as of Thanksgiving. Since then their defensive rating has fallen to 111.2 which is good for 18th in the league. If they can capture that defense that they came out with at the beginning of the season then they really are a force to be reckoned with for anybody.
The Wasatch Front
The Utah Jazz on the other hand came out of the gates this season with an unrecognizable and poor defense compared to what we have seen with past Quin Snyder teams. There have been a few theories as to why that is, but the good news for Jazz fans is that the poor defense appears to be a thing of the past. As of Thanksgiving, the Jazz defensive rating was 108.5 which was 15th in the league. Since that point they have risen to 106.4, which is good for 5th place now. In the case of this Jazz team it appears that the offensive game comes much easier when their defense is clicking and communicating well. Even coming off the loss to the Thunder on Saturday, the defense looked better than it did the first time they played Oklahoma City.
After all the presents have been unwrapped and Christmas feast digested, Utah Jazz fans will be eagerly awaiting the start of the most anticipated regular season game since the schedule was released this past summer. May we enjoy a Jazz win as the final gift to cap off a great day. In the meantime enjoy these nostalgic highlights from a Jazz Christmas Day win 30 years ago!
[Correction: Prior version of this article listed Andre Roberson playing for the Lakers. While he is not available for the Lakers, he plays for the Thunder. Article has been corrected.]